Is your website growing your business? Inzar Haq investigates8 December 2022
Today we’re chatting with Inzar Haq from Insight Consultancy, a digital agency based in the heart of Leicester City. Inzar is one of our voluntary Business Champions, able to offer in-depth advice when a Leicestershire company needs it. Here he discusses the issue of web hosting which many SMEs find confusing.
In a digital-first world, having an expertly hosted website is more important than ever. While many web hosts offer simple, no-frills website hosting, having a partner that helps you to understand what is happening on a day-to-day basis, and the impact that their work is having on your growing business is less common. Today we’re exploring the features and
services that a quality web host should be able to offer you, helping you to maximise your investment in your online platform.
Safe and Secure
Digital security is an ongoing process. Where a particular site or app might be perfectly safe one week, the next might reveal an issue that could be critical. What does your host need to do to keep your site safe, whilst keeping you informed about your ongoing security? At minimum, your host should provide suitable security settings and protection on your
website, with a high-quality host being able to inform you on an ongoing basis of what is being done to achieve this. This typically includes firewalls, network monitoring, as well as
the physical protection of the server itself at their premises.
Can you remember the last time you ran updates in the admin dashboard? Just like your car, your website needs servicing to stay in the best condition.
A basic hosting provider would likely have the attitude that this is your responsibility, and that while they host your website with some basic security settings, they’re not responsible
for its overall health. This is a real problem, requiring further time and resources from yourself to keep your website safe. A host offering slightly more care, may notify you when a plugin or theme is out of date, but is unlikely to offer further support.
An ideal host for your business will not only notify you when there is a problem, but update the affected software on your behalf, and report to you fully about what has been changed, and why. This approach saves your business the most time, maximises the security of the site and provides you with all the information needed to make smart decisions in the future.
To further guarantee security of your online presence, a great host will be very vigilant about backing up your website’s files. Is your current host regularly backing up your site? There’s nothing worse than receiving an email from a customer to hear that “your website is down”. When these issues arise, there’s peace-of-mind in having a host who not only regularly backs up your website, but lets you know when it’s being done and how often it’s being done. This extra care and attention will make resolving any issue much lighter work, with restoration from a backup being quick and easy.
Fast and Reliable
When a business is selling or generating leads online, a fast website can make the difference between a cohort of satisfied customers, and a queue forming outside your competitors’
front door. Not only will your users judge your website’s speed, but services like Google also internally judge your website, and use it to decide how many users should be pointed to your services. How is your host supporting you to achieve excellent speeds?
A great web host will do two primary things to ensure you excel in this regard. Firstly, their servers themselves, their network infrastructure and other hardware will all be optimised to ensure a fast service, which can deliver content quickly. They should also give you a good idea of how optimised the speed of your website itself is, letting you know if there are any
simple changes you could make to enhance your customer’s experience. With this in hand, you can focus on your core products and services without worrying about technical
Owned and Accessible
While a host’s obligation is to house your website on their systems, the process of accessing the website, managing it and understanding every detail should be effortless for you. A
quality host will provide you with all the tools and information you need to fully own your website – the fact that it’s hosted on an external business’ systems should not impact this in any way. How does your host help you to access your web backend and manage it?
As far as understanding your web traffic, how should a host help you to measure your ongoing visitor growth? Supportive hosts will be able to offer regular reporting on how many
users are arriving on your site, where they’re coming from (whether Google, Facebook, Instagram for example) and how they interact with your website (whether they are becoming
qualified leads and customers).
Affordable and Affable
The features above can be found in a range of enterprise-level hosting providers, but for most SMEs these simply aren’t cost effective for their needs, with costs likely to reach several thousand pounds annually.
Another solution for businesses is to hire an “in house” developer, offering a constantly available resource to solve issues with their website, but this is generally cost prohibitive for
growing small businesses. While a modest web host with a care plan could cost anywhere from £600 to £1,200 per year depending on quality, a full time developer could cost over ten times more – not realistic for most businesses.
The core challenge is finding a provider that offers the care, support and functionality we’ve discussed, at a scale and budget that makes complete sense and is sustainable.
Having a responsive host support service, where your emails and calls are answered promptly, at a price that can be greenlit by decision makers needn’t be a stressful challenge.
By focusing on asking the right questions when seeking out a new host, or reviewing your current host you can make it easy to get the clear answers you need to make great decisions
about your business’s digital future.
If you have any specific questions about web hosting feel free to contact me at: email@example.com